Blue Velvet (1986)
Frequently Asked Questions
In several scenes throughout the film, Frank Booth (played by Dennis Hopper) uses a mask to breathe in gas from a tank, and what the gas actually was has caused considerable debate over the years. In the script written by David Lynch, it is specified as being helium, to raise Frank's voice to a higher pitched tone. On the DVD, Hopper explains that when he filmed Blue Velvet, he had just gone through detox and was clean for the first time in several years. He brought with him considerable knowledge of various narcotics, hallucinogens, etc, and told Lynch that he didn't feel helium would be right. Rather, he said, he believed that Frank would have a tank of amyl nitrate (also known as "poppers"), a drug used medically by heart patients to regulate their heartbeat, and recreationally in altered doses to relax the muscles and induce a state of euphoria. Hopper said that he had experimented with the drug, and that during his highs he experienced visual hallucinations of glowing objects in front of him. Lynch liked the idea and incorporated it into the film; hence Frank's "grabbing" motions in some scenes after he's been inhaling.
Hopper would later go on to say that he wished that he hadn't convinced Lynch not to use helium, as it only occurred to him after filming how unsettling it would be for a maniac to be inhaling it and then threatening people with a high pitched voice.
The severed ear is a key symbolic moment in Blue Velvet, so yes. The importance of the scene is because the ear is what leads Jeffrey into danger. Indeed, just as Jeffrey's troubles begin, the audience is treated to a nightmarish sequence in which the camera zooms into the ear canal of the severed, decomposing ear. Notably, the camera does not reemerge from the ear canal until the end of the film. When Jeffrey finally comes through his hellish ordeal unscathed, the ear canal shot is replayed, only in reverse, zooming out through Jeffrey's own ear as he relaxes in his yard on a summer day.
The bugs seen writhing and fighting at the beginning of the film symbolize the dark and violent world that lies just barely beneath the veneer of simple small-town life, as typified by the immaculate green lawn. A product of small-town upbringing himself, Lynch often explores the darker side of what is often stereotypically seen as the simple, decent life of rural comunities.
The Blue Velvet soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti is a dark combination of classic composition and vintage/modern pop songs, which mirrors the film's un-stated setting envisioned by David Lynch. Thus, the film has become noted for its diverse musical selections. Seen as a prominent stylistic feature in the film is the unconventional use of vintage pop songs, such as Bobby Vintons "Blue Velvet" and Roy Orbison's "In Dreams," juxtaposed with an orchestral score inspired largely by Shostakovich. The score makes direct quotations from Shostakovich's 15th Symphony, which Lynch had been listening to regularly while writing the screenplay.
There are several 1950s-style pop songs that play a strong role in Blue Velvet and are invaluable in helping Lynch show the evil as a contrast against the music. These are by far the most important sound elements because they operate throughout the film. Besides the traditional dialogue and the aforementioned songs, the sound in Blue Velvet is primarily traditional instrumentation, consisting of strings and wind instruments. In the credit sequence, a mysterious, undulating string arrangement seem to foreshadow that the film will be a mystery. This alludes to the film's mysterious plot, futher alluded by the recurring snoop music played throughout the film, most notably while Jeffery plays detective while exploring the underworld."The Mysteries of Love" song is usually played during the love scenes between Jeffery and Sandy. "In Dreams" can be considered as Franks motto. The dichotomy between good and evil in Lumberton is almost like day and night, where evil, symbolized by Frank, is night.
Lynch worked with well-known music composer Angelo Badalamenti for the first time in this film and asked him to write a score that had to be like Shostakovich: very Russian, the most beautiful thing, yet dark and a little bit scary. Badalamenti's success with Blue Velvet landed him a place as a contributor to all of Lynch's future feature films.
The track listing is as follows, with the duration of each song/extract in brackets:
1."Main Title" (1:27)
2."Night Streets/Sandy and Jeffrey" (3:42)
3."Frank" (3:34) "Jeffrey's Dark Side" (1:48)
4. "Mysteries of Love" (2:10)
5. "Frank Returns" (4:39)
6. "Mysteries of Love" [instrumental] (4:41)
7. "Blue Velvet/Blue Star" (3:14)
8. "Lumberton U.S.A./Going Down to Lincoln" (2:13)
9. "Akron Meets the Blues" (2:40)
10. Bill Doggett - "Honky Tonk, Pt. 1" (3:09)
11. Roy Orbison - "In Dreams" (2:48)
12. Ketty Lester - "Love Letters" (2:36)
13. Julee Cruise - "Mysteries of Love" (4:22)
Yes, there are many. Probably the two best that are soley dedicated to the film are "Blue Velvet" by Charles Drazin, published in 2001, which can be found on Amazon, or an insight purely by the author; not really a universal guide, but it's a good read and is also titled "Blue Velvet." It was written by Michael Atkinson in 1997. Both books are still in print.
In North Carolina. However, the town of Lumberton has a very Pacific Northwest feel to it, similar to many towns in David Lynch projects. Lynch based Lumberton on his childhood hometown of Spokane, WA. The movie was shot in Wilmington, NC mostly (70km away from the real Lumberton), which led to problems with the name used in the film. Lynch eventually decided to film parts of the film in the real Lumberton in order to use the name.
It belonged to Dorothy's husband, who can be seen in the film's final moments when Jeffery walks into Dorothy's apartment to have one last confrontation with Frank Booth. Dorothy's husband is the man with blue velvet material stuck in his mouth, missing one of his ears, which Jeffery found earlier in the film.
The final scene of the film depicts a robin devouring a bug-- bugs having previously been used to symbolize the evil beneath the surface of Lumberton. In the script, the robin is intended to symbolize good triumphing over evil. However, the robin at the end of the film appears quite obviously fake, leading to speculation that it is a false victory.
According to the DVD special features, David Lynch had initially tried to use a real robin, which no animal trainer could get to move on cue. Because of the robin's unpredictability, Lynch ordered a hurried construction on a mechanical robin so that the scene could be filmed. Because of the rushed schedule and technology available in 1986, the robin is quite obviously fake; this was not intentional, however. In fact, it was supposedly made using a dead robin that the prop designer had found on the way in to work that day. Whether or not Lynch ultimately re-worked the intended meaning of the scene to indicate that the peace in Lumberton is false and fleeting has been the subject of fan speculation since the film's release.
Not quite; Frank had done something to him to give him severe brain damage (in one of the establishing shots of the apartment, the viewer can see a large chunk of the man's brains bulging out through a hole in his skull). Frank does kill him, though, upon returning. So, essentially, the man was still alive but in a daze caused by the severe head trauma.
In Dreams by Roy Orbison
Songwriter Bernie Wayne was staying at the Jefferson Hotel in Virginia when he noticed a beautiful woman at a party who was wearing a blue velvet dress and crying, no one else seeming to realise she was there. Inspired he went away and wrote the song, never finding out who she was or why she was crying. Wayne died in 1993 and no one has ever been able to identify the woman in question or even locate anyone else who remembers her, raising the possibility that she may not have existed at all.
Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle McLachlan) makes a gruesome discovery and discovers a severed human ear in a field and reports it to Detective John Williams (George Dickerson). After meeting Detective William's daughter Sandy (Laura Dern), Jeffrey decides to do his own investigation. Jeffrey's own investigation leads him to become suspicious of the beautiful and mysterious nightclub Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) whom Jeffrey believes may be connected to the severed human ear. But, Jeffrey's investigation soon places his life in danger, when he discovers Dorothy is the sex slave of a psychotic criminal called Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), whom is holding her husband and son hostage and whilst hiding in Dorothy's closet, a horrified Jeffrey witnesses Frank raping Dorothy. Jeffrey finds himself exploring his own dark side and finds himself, as he continues to investigate, which becomes an obsession and he becomes sexually involved with Dorothy and he begins to develop romantic feelings for Sandy and Jeffrey's determination to solve the mystery of the severed human ear and he soon meets Frank Booth face to face and enters Frank Booth's sinister criminal underworld, which Jeffrey soon learns that he lives in a dangerous strange world.